"Truly terrifying": Ukrainian expats in America feel fear, anger, and guilt

Interviews revealed that Ukrainian-born Americans living in the United States expressed concern over their homeland's fate and a desire for more.

"Truly terrifying": Ukrainian expats in America feel fear, anger, and guilt

Lana Prudyvus awakes every morning with fear in her stomach.

Prudyvus is a former tennis coach from Ukraine who now lives in California. She feels "terrified" about what lies ahead on her phone -- text messages and news alerts regarding Russian President Vladimir Putin's latest announcement, and texts her father sends to her about developments in Ukraine.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, she stated that the situation had gotten worse over the past few days. "Putin's unpredictable nature is what makes it so difficult. We don't know what will happen next."

Prudyvus is 25 and watches the news coverage on the Ukraine crisis. She feels a mix of anxiety and fear.

She was surprised by a surprising new feeling this week.

Prudyvus stated, "I feel useless." Prudyvus said, "I feel like my family is not supported and I am not able to be there fully." It's unfair that they are there and I am here.

She is among the many thousands of Ukrainian expatriates in the United States, who are worried about a full-scale Russian attack on their homeland and the possibility of the most serious military conflict in Europe since World War II.

Interviews revealed that some felt guilty, stating they feel safe in America, while their family, friends, and business partners live under constant threat of war.

Yara Klimchak (32), moved to the U.S. in 1993 with her family and her brother. She settled in Chicago where she is a content strategist for an advertising company. The fourth-largest Ukrainian population in Illinois is found in Illinois.

Her thoughts often turn to her grandmother, an 84-year old woman who lives in Lviv. Klimchak worries constantly about her safety, even though the city is located in Ukraine's west.

"I feel guilty. My parents were able for me to travel to the U.S. as a toddler. You see all this and wonder why you aren't protesting. "Why am I not doing more?"

Klimchak stated that she can help in at least two ways by speaking with the media and raising awareness through social media platforms.

"I can talk about this. She said, "I can use my voice and let the West know there are people being directly affected by this crisis."

Prudyvus also echoed this sentiment. On Tuesday night, Prudyvus posted an Instagram message of 335 words that summarized her feelings about the country.

"Ukraine is home to an incredibly rich culture, history, and no one can take it away," she said in response to Putin's claim that Ukraine was "Russian soil" taken from the Russian empire. "I'm unable to be there right now, and it breaks my heart."

Prudyvus stated to NBC News that it was his way of reaching as many people possible, to educate them the best I know, and to share my heart.

Meanwhile, about 400 miles to her north in Torrance, hundreds of Ukrainian Americans gathered outside St. Michael Ukrainian Orthodox Church, San Francisco, over the weekend in solidarity with their compatriots.

Tatiana Fedyk, a San Francisco resident, said that she had been expecting something similar for a while. "But there will probably be a solution because humans come to the edge and stop, usually. That is what I believe."

However, the tensions are not over yet because of Putin's fiery rhetoric or the imminent presence of Russian troops.

Alex Kuzma is chief development officer of the Ukrainian Catholic Education Foundation in North America. He stated that "Ukrainians have no illusions about who we're dealing avec here."

Kuzma, who is 66 years old, was born in Connecticut to Ukrainian immigrants and now lives in Glastonbury. He and his wife lived for approximately a year in Ukraine once before moving to the United States.

He said that despite his anger and fear, he feels "encouraged", despite the fact that sanctions were imposed by the Biden administration on Russia.

He said, "It was encouraging because, finally Ukraine isn't being treated as an abstraction." It's not a piece of chess that can be sacrificed for global powers.

Kuzma said that he felt it was important that Americans understand that many Ukrainians desire a better future for Russian citizens.

He said that they don't harbor animosity towards Russians per se, and added that they admire leaders like Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader. They want the same freedom as Ukraine over the past 30 years.

He said, "We don't want Ukraine sacrificed to Putin's ego or Putin's greed."

Kuzma, along with others of Ukrainian heritage, gathered at Hartford's Connecticut state Capitol Building on Sunday. He said that a friend of his at the rally had commented that Russia-Ukraine conflicts might be God's will -- a battle of biblical proportions.

He said, "We are aware of the potential ramifications." "But, we also know that the Ukrainian people survived the Mongols and the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Nazis and the Soviets. We have survived many invasions, and we will continue to live as a people."

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